Brisbane Times, Australia
Nov 28 2014

November 28, 2014 - 10:45PM

by Nicole Elphick

Tamar Chnorhokian's flair for the poetic helped her realise her
passion for writing. As a high schooler, the now-36-year-old author
had an unusual sideline penning romantic verse for her peers. "I had
friends coming up to me saying, 'It's our first anniversary, can you
write me a poem?' So I was writing about other people's love lives.

Meanwhile, I didn't have one of my own, but anyway ... That's how
it started."

The Armenian Australian is set to publish her debut novel, The Diet
Starts on Monday, next month. The book for young adults focuses on
an obese teenager who decides to lose weight to win over a boy. The
Bossley Park resident is also taking part in an author roadshow for
western Sydney schools, as part of the inaugural Children's Festival
of Moving Stories.

Why did you set your book in Fairfield?

I grew up in Fairfield, I grew up in Villawood ...I wanted to
write a positive representation, because there are only negative
representations in the media. Where I live, there are wonderful things
that happen there, that is the thing I wanted to talk about.

Is there a place in that area that's particularly close to your heart?

The Armenian Club in Bonnyrigg is somewhere I spent my childhood days.

When I was a Girl Guide, our weekly meetings were held there, so I
was there all the time. I have lots of memories of hanging out with
my friends there.

Where do you go these days to meet up with friends?

The Coffee Emporium in Stockland Wetherill Park. It has great coffee
- the skim vanilla latte is my favourite. Also What the Fudge?, a
really popular dessert place in Canley Heights and Cabramatta. They
have this delicious [dish] called the Fried Golden Gaytime. When my
friends and I go there we have that.

Where would you take an out-of-town visitor?

Tasty: Deep-fried gaytime from What the Fudge?

I'd take them to Bankstown Sports Club. That is my favourite club in
the western suburbs. The piazza in there feels like a little Italy.

It's absolutely beautiful.

Tell me about the literary collective, Sweatshop.

I am an original member of Sweatshop. I've been there from the
beginning in 2007. It's a literacy movement devoted to empowering
western Sydney communities through creative writing and critical
thinking. We run writers' workshops every fortnight and it's based at
the University of Western Sydney Writing and Society Research Centre
at the Bankstown campus. We did an anthology ... called Stories of
Sydney - my short story was in there as well. We had 15 writers, 10
from western Sydney and five from the inner west, and it was about the
experiences they had living in Sydney. And we do workshops at schools.

What's the last book by a local author you enjoyed?

[Sweatshop director] Michael Mohammed Ahmad's book The Tribe. It's
about growing up in an Arab family, moving from Alexandria to Lakemba.

I'm not Arab, I'm Armenian, but there's some cultural things in there
that I could relate to a lot.

What is the best thing about living in the west?

[The multiculturalism is] the one thing I love most about it. It might
not have the harbour views or the water, but it has flavour. Different
kinds of cultures introduce you to different kinds of worlds. My best
friend is Chilean, I've got Italian friends, I've got Asian friends.

It's not so insular as when there's only one group of people living
in one area. It's a big melting point in Fairfield; you can have
a Buddhist temple and then across the road a church. Those are the
things that the media doesn't show or talk about, but they should.

From: A. Papazian